SAY MY NAME
Born and raised in southern Montana, Bethany Yellowtail is a proud member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribes. Her Indian name is Ammaakealachehiibaachilakacheesh “Overcomes through Faith.”
She is the creator and CEO of B. Yellowtail, an indigenous clothing line, and the founder of the B. Yellowtail Collective a brand initiative which sells and promotes handmade, heirloom quality jewelry, textiles and accessories crafted by carefully selected indigenous artists from all corners of North America.
Bethany’s artistic vision and work is irremovable from her social justice vision for her community: not only does she provide employment for dozens of artists, she has plans to eventually bring a surge of economic development to Native country by moving her factories and design headquarters to remote reservation locations who have been plagued by poverty for the last few centuries, providing job and training opportunities in the fashion industry where none currently exist. In a world where indigenous images are often stolen and misappropriated, Bethany serves as an unapologetic arbiter of authenticity; a genuine voice who seeks to empower her people through design and representation.
Her grandmother and auntie first taught her basic sewing skills and how to make shawls, and by the time she reached eighth grade she already knew how to sew. Those requisite home economics classes students have to take in high school were Yellowtail’s favorite classes. By the time she was a high school senior, she was the lone student still taking them, giving her valuable one-on-one time with a teacher who by then had also grown to be an important mentor.
In fact, it was the teacher, Patricia Mischke, who would get Yellowtail to California for school and give her a shot at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising when the other college she applied to closed suddenly. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. Mischke went to FIDM and told them about Yellowtail.
Yellowtail experienced massive culture shock on the small campus — which, she says, was entirely painted pink and “looked like a Barbie Sorority house.” She was homesick. It was different than the rural Montana environment where she grew up. There were so many people. It was overwhelming, and moreover, the curriculum was intense.
“It was hard and stressful,” she says, “but an extremely valuable learning experience and a big time gut check. It really made me realize how badly I wanted to be in this industry, and that I could stick it out. Even if I was scrapping for sleep and money, eventually it opened a door to where I am now.”
At this time Yellowtail resides in Los Angeles, California where she is developing her own label and working as a freelance fashion designer. She specializes in custom designs, and women’s wear including, bridal, cocktail, and evening dresses.